Tuesday, August 10, 2010

What's Better Than 'Cheddar'?

Somehow, we haven't mentioned the ever quotable Keith Hernandez here in a few weeks, but Keith has been driving a newish term in the baseball lexicon: cheddar.

"Cheese" has been a popular term for a good fastball for some time. The San Francisco Chronicle's "Bleacher Report" (gratuitous shout-out to old friend/SF Chron sports editor Al Saracevic!) had Giants closer Brian Wilson striking out Dodger Casey Blake with "97 miles per hour cheese" recently. (Several have surely described Wilson's fauxhawk as "cheesy" too.)

When the Metsies faced the Reds last month, Hernandez said of the Reds closer, "Cordero is throwing nothing but cheese."

But Hernandez, and perhaps other announcers, have taken the slang term and slanged it even further.

A Mets-Giants game last month prompted Hernandez, who is prone to stream of consciousness musings now and then, to think of old fireballing reliever Bobby Thigpen, who set the since-broken save record with 57 in 1990, and won the award for MLB Player Whose Name Most Sounds Like Pigpen for ten years running.

Keith could not come up with Thigpen's first name, but Gary Cohen, of course, knew it. (That's the Hernandez-Cohen SNY dynamic in a nutshell: Hernandez offering up some loopy thought, and the ever-solid Cohen closing the loop for him.)

"That guy threw some serious cheddar," said Hernandez.

Wikipedia's Glossary of Baseball has "cheese" and "high cheese" in it, but no "cheddar."

It offers: A fastball, particularly one that reaches the mid- to upper-90s in velocity. Also high cheese.

(According to the Babe Ruth biography, The Big Bam, the Babe once jumped into the stands during 1920's spring training to attack a spectator who kept calling him "a big piece of cheese," then quickly retreated when the fan pulled out a knife and threatened to turn the Babe to Swiss cheese.)
If we can squeeze another joke out of Brian Wilson's foul haircut, we would posit another term for his 98 m.p.h. fastball: Herman Munster cheese.

1 comment:

Brett P said...

In the classic 1993 baseball movie Rookie of the Year, the protagonist Henry Rowengartner cheers on aging fireballer Chet Steadman (played by the incomporable Gary Busey) by encouraging him to "throw the high, stinkin' cheddar"